Eating the best foods for gut health is vital to your overall wellness—research points to the importance of the gut-brain connection. What we feed our bodies can impact not only the way our bellies feel but how our whole body feels and functions. In fact, crafting a nutritious menu full of vitamins, fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics can go a long way toward better digestive health and gut health.
“Whole plant foods are incredibly important for gut health because they provide fiber for our gut microbes, and fiber is the most important nutrient for those gut microbes,” Ravella says.
An ever-growing amount of research points to the enormous role your gut plays in your health and well-being. In addition to assisting with digestion, the good bacteria in your gut help keep you healthy by producing vitamins, supporting the immune system and fending off harmful bacteria. In fact, more than 70% of your immune system resides in your gut.
Kefir is a dairy-based drink that often contains more probiotics and protein than regular yogurt. A 2021 review article published in Frontiers in Nutrition indicates that consuming kefir may help improve your gut microbiome by reducing inflammation and gut permeability. Additionally, research, such as a 2021 study in PharmaNutrition, suggests that kefir may help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. As with yogurt, check the ingredients label to limit added sugar.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, bananas aren’t just easy to eat but can help in the gut-healing process by restoring electrolytes such as potassium that could be lost due to diarrhea or vomiting. Clinical studies also show that less-ripe bananas contain resistant starch that promotes the growth of beneficial microbes in your digestive tract. Basically, those microbes break down and can help prevent chronic digestive disorders.
Vadasz raw kimchi
Kimchi is definitely an acquired taste. However, if you are on board with that tangy, sour, salty, umami flavour, it’s definitely a food to eat more often, if you’re looking to improve your gut health. Unsure of how to incorporate kimchi into your diet? It is commonly eaten as a side dish, so you can simply use it as an addition to meals featuring rice, etc, rather than eating it solo.
Dr Zoe said: “There are probiotics you can consume in your diet – any food that is fermented is a probiotic.
If you’re somebody who’s prone to gas and bloating, you may want to try reducing your consumption of fructose, or fruit sugar. Some fruits such as apples, pears and mango are all high in fructose.
On the other hand, berries and citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, contain less fructose, making them easier to tolerate and less likely to cause gas. Bananas are another low-fructose fruit that are fiber-rich and contain inulin, a substance that stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Spinach is another of Sorenson’s favorite gut-health veggies. “It’s an extremely versatile dark, leafy green that is a rich source of fiber, iron, and magnesium,” she says. “Big plus is that it can be mixed with so many other fruits and veggies that contain vitamin C to assist with iron absorption.” Buy a package of pre-washed baby spinach to use as the base of a quick salad, use frozen spinach in smoothies with your other favorite fruit and veggies, or sauté or steam it with your favorite dishes—eggs, pasta, whatever!
Olive Oil: Worth It, but Limit Your Intake
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet and has been linked to better heart health. And article in the February 2021 issue of Nutrition Reviews states that olive oil may also be one of the better foods for gut health. The review notes that olive oil is a prebiotic, which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium while inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria.
While olive oil shows promising gut health benefits, Cresci advises that, as with any fat, “you don’t want to go overboard on how much olive oil you consume.” She recommends limiting fat intake to less than 30 percent of your total calories.
Everyone’s favourite cinema snack is actually healthier than you might think. Who knew popcorn could be one of the best foods for gut health?
Although – just to be clear – we’re not talking about the kind covered in butter, sugar, and salt.
Pure, air-popped popcorn without any added sugar, fats, or chemicals contains an impressive 14.5g fibre per 100g.
Eating asparagus, as part of a fiber-rich diet, is an excellent way to help meet your fiber needs and keep your digestive system healthy. As a good source of fiber, asparagus promotes regularity and digestive health and may help reduce your risk of certain conditions, like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Get the recipe for Asparagus, Quinoa, and Rice Salad.
Eat more plants
A plant-based diet means you’re getting polyphenols and their inflammation-fighting protection. Regularly include foods like seeds and whole vegetables and even treats like dark chocolate.
It’ll help reduce chronic inflammation and boost immunity and heart health while allowing your cardiovascular system to pump blood to every area of your body more effectively.
Your body can’t break down fiber on its own. When it gets to your large intestine, gut bacteria get to work fermenting it. This creates acids that feed cells in your intestines while helping to protect your gut from harmful bacteria.
How Food Affects Gut Health
When you eat anything, your gut bacteria recognizes it and uses it as information. Those bacteria will “tell” the immune system, hormones, and brain how to use the information from the food, Dr. Amy Shah, MD, a double-board-certified medical doctor and author of I’m So Effing Hungry: Why We Crave What We Crave—And What to Do About It, explains.
Together they figure out what to do with that food and how best to absorb the nutrients. Food is literally information, and that information is created and distributed by gut bacteria.